About a year ago, Richard Swift horrifically fractured his left ring finger. For a moment his nimble guitar and piano work flashed before his eyes. Doctors were saying things like “movement and feeling could eventually return,” etc, etc. Certainly, not even a little blip on the sadness radar of humanity, but a massive bummer for a fellow who has carved out a niche as one of independent music’s sought after session players and producers – and especially in relation to the astounding Richard Swift solo output we all know and love.
So, it’s with a great, collective sigh of relief that he’s back to churning out new material like “Whitman.” It’s chugging, chiming and triumphant, featuring Swift’s always-endearing falsetto and casual call-and-response lyricism. “I’ve got my own Whitman…Farewell, farewell/I hope it did you good/To say the things/My father never could,” Swift pines. The song is a cryptic salute to Walt Whitman, whose American lineage of primal, urgent art can be traced to include Kerouac and Dylan, Bo Diddley and Beefheart – right on through to modern outsider-pop wunderkinds like Swift. And according to Swift, “Whitman” is a nice taste of what we can expect from his next longform recording.
The same can be said for the remainder of the Walt Wolfman EP. Conceived in the same spirit that gave us 2008’s cult favorite Ground Trouble Jaw EP, these blown-out, basement R&B rippers are not for the faint of heart. They require movement and sweat, dancing with a cocktail glass in your grip until your shoes are soaked in booze. Highlight of the set, “MG 333,” is a raw and ghostly trance, a blast of kinetic energy and jazz cigarette smoke. Meanwhile, the neu-vintage jive of “Drakula (Hey Man)” and “Zombie Boogie” pack a timelessness that transcends their seasonal titles. And yeah, that’s Swift himself on rapid-fire drums across the whole damn set. Shit, he might have been fine without that measly finger after all.
Richard Swift is performing as a touring member of The Shins this fall.
Walt Wolfman EP will be released by Secretly Canadian on October 18th, 2011 in digital and vinyl formats.
1. Whitmanbr>2. MG 333
3. Laugh It Up
4. Zombie Boogie
5. Out & About
6. Drakula (Hey Man!)
7. St. Michael
According to all things Twitter, Tumblr and beyonder, Santa Barbara’s Gardens & Villa has tickled the fancy of the masses — unexpectedly, in many cases — whilst on the band’s North American tour with Foster the People. We too found ourselves under the band’s heavy spell at a recent Chicago appearance. You can say it’s coastal, new wave pop, and that would be absolutely true. I mean, we’ve said that very phrase ourselves. But it’s simultaneously ceremonial and huge-feeling. It’s joyous, but it’s weighty when you least suspect. They also have a stencil of Michael Jackson on their bass amp, and they end the whole live set with a ripping, near-Krautrock version of Gary Numan’s “Cars.”
G&V’s self-titled Secretly Canadian debut is out July 5 (Pre-order HERE or HERE). But today through release day, Yours Truly is hosting a full-stream of the record. From the opening synth pulses of “Black Hills” through the closing tribal flute ceremony of “Neon Dove,” the record is front-to-back excellence. It catwalks the exciting line between stark-pop songcraft and rain forest lushness.
Gardens & Villa are merely just beginning a season of touring. They will traverse North American twice over, touring with Generationals, Craft Spells and Foster the People. See all those dates HERE.
Gardens & Villa are a warm spring wind up your pant leg on the first late night stoney bike ride of the year. Sent to us not so long ago by producer Richard Swift, these tunes whipped around every head in the office. Now, let thy own head be whipped around. We’ve got Gardens & Villa’s self-titled debut set to drop July 5.
In the year of the saxophone, Gardens & Villa gives us the flute. And along the way, the Santa Barbara band effectively wipes clear the vaseline from the murky bedroom funk of recent days. G&V bang out instant classics — each crystal clear and immaculate, but no less sweeping or languid. Their debut is a youthful exploration of just how opulent and pop starkness can go. It also leaves an impression of California in the way that Richard Diebenkorn’s Ocean Park series or the pool party scene from The Graduate both do, always sensed more than stated outright.
At Swift’s Oregon studio in Summer 2010, they put some sand in the silk sheets of new wave (“Black Hills”) and pop some translucent funk (“Orange Blossom”). There’s also a level of effortless class maintained across the whole set. Each and every lush little gem explores the wonderful mystery between intuition and proficiency, between tension and repose.
The G&V gang — Chris Lynch, Adam Rasmussen, Levi Hayden, Shane McKillop and Dusty Ineman — are right now on a tour of the US. Check out the dates HERE and then, take all your friends with you.
When Damien Jurado was on tour this past fall with Shearwater, he stopped by the Washington, DC NPR Headquarters to perform a magnificent Tiny Desk concert, including Saint Bartlett stand outs “Cloudy Shoes,” “Arkansas” and “Beacon Hill” and the unreleased tune “Newspaper Gown.”
The All Songs Considered crew (who we found out are longtime Damien fans!) have always been able to capture the essence of a musician through this ongoing series, given the pure intimacy and simplicity. Stephen Thompson writes:
This one is special: Jurado has spent the last decade churning out albums of raw, time-worn, authentically graceful music, and he’s always possessed a seemingly innate gift for capturing the intricacies of human behavior.
We recently gave you the heads up on Damien’s forthcoming 10th LP and working with Richard Swift again. Damien Begins touring in March with Viva Voce, then supports John Vanderslice in May. All info on those dates and new recording can be found here.
We also have one more Damien news item we’d like to fill you in on: tonight’s episode of House will feature “Everything Trying.” We are told this is going to be a particularly heart-wrenching scene, as you could imagine if you’re familiar with the song.
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